By Colin Richey, Assistant Sports Editor
The men’s basketball team fell to the MAAC-leading Quinnipiac Bobcats 88–63 on Sunday before losing 69–64 in a Battle of the Bridge matchup at Niagara on Tuesday, while also announcing several players are out for the remainder of the season.
The Griffs traveled to Connecticut shorthanded, with juniors TJ Porter and TJ Gadsden being listed as day-to-day. Furthermore, sophomore Tahj Staveskie, junior Xzavier Long and graduate student Joe Jones III were ruled out for the remainder of the 2023-24 season with injuries.
Quinnipiac’s only conference loss this season came against the Griffins earlier in the year, but the Bobcats were able to defend their home court with a convincing 88–63 victory. Quinnipiac came out firing, outscoring Canisius 48–28 in the first half. Trailing 16–5 after just 5:43, the Griffs were able to trim the lead down to three points thanks to an 8–0 run, but that would be as close to the lead as Cansius would get.
Junior Frank Mitchell recorded his league-leading 11th double-double of the season, with 14 points and 16 rebounds. He became the first Griffin to record at least 15 rebounds in five straight games since the 1969-70 season. His seven games of 15 or more rebounds this season ranks second in the nation. Junior Cam Palesse produced a career-high 14 points and six rebounds, while senior Siem Uijtendaal added 12 points.
Junior Tre Dinkins commented on playing shorthanded, stating, “They’re definitely great players that we need. I think ever since they made the call that they’re out, guys like myself and other guards and bigs have had to step up, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far. Now it’s just a matter of keep fighting and being aggressive.”
A second half comeback by the Purple Eagles proved too much, as the Griffs fell to Niagara 69–64. Canisius took a 23–15 lead fueled by an 18–4 run midway through the first half. Outscoring Niagara 14–4 over the final 5:32 of the first half gave the Griffs a 40–26 lead at halftime. However, the Purple Eagles fought back in the second half, catalyzed by a 13–0 run to tie the game 45–45. Canisius had a chance to tie the contest, down three with 11.2 seconds remaining, but the shot bounced off the rim.
Mitchell recorded another double-double, scoring a team-high 16 points along with 14 rebounds. Senior Bryce Okpoh scored 13 points off the bench, while Uijtendaal and sophomore Youri Fritz added nine points, each. The Griffs were just 2/15 from three-point range but still shot 43.1 percent overall.
Dinkins enjoys the time he shares on the court with Mitchell. “It’s fun. I love playing with Frank. He’s obviously a double-double machine, a big, energetic guy. He plays hard on both ends of the floor,” Dinkins said. “He’s a good leader for us as well. He talks a lot, he’s very vocal. We need that for this squad. I definitely love playing with him.”
The Griffs host the Iona Gaels, who are currently fifth in the MAAC, on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 1 p.m.